SURGE Ignite

SURGE Forward: 2021

Sessions in this virtual conference

June 8

June 9

June 10

Day 1:  June 8

9 am – 10 am (CT)

1 CAE Credit

Emerging Trends and the New Best Practices in the Membership Economy

In the past year, we’ve seen a surge in subscription-pricing and membership models. Subscriptions are everywhere. Memberships have never been more popular for purpose-driven organizations, but also for industries as wide-ranging as retail, consumer products, software, hospitality, and healthcare.

Why? Because businesses that have trusted, ongoing relationships with the people they serve enjoy predictable cash flow, better data insights, and are more valuable than their episodic and transactional peers — all of which became more valuable in the uncertainty of the pandemic.

People are being inundated, asked to subscribe to everything—and Subscription Fatigue is on the rise.

So how do you build a membership organization that members love, and stay with? And how did the pandemic change the way these relationships are developed?

Subscription-expert Robbie Kellman Baxter will join us at SURGE Forward to share emerging best practices of tomorrow’s membership organizations. In this engaging and interactive session, the author of both “The Membership Economy” and “The Forever Transaction” will show you how to optimize your offering to attract, engage and retain your members in 2021 and beyond.

Robbie Kellman Baxter

Author and subscription expert

10:15 am – 10:45 am (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

Why Now is the Time to Change Your Pricing Strategy (And How to Do It)

If there’s one thing most associations faced over the past year, it’s that a lack of a pricing and value strategy for your products and services leads to knee jerk reactions when an emergency hits. The good news? Now is the perfect time to implement a pricing and value strategy. In this session, you will learn what components your strategy needs, where to start today, and how to continue your strategy with continuous improvement for years to come – emergency or not.

After this session, you’ll be able to:
– Analyze which components of a pricing and value strategy your organization is lacking
– Develop a plan of action to initiate a proper pricing and value strategy
– Execute an annual review for continuous improvement in value and pricing

Michael Tatonetti


Pricing for Associations

11 am – 12 pm (CT)

1 CAE Credit

New Rules of Engagement: Thinking Purposefully Beyond the Pandemic

The pandemic changed everything we know about how associations engage with their members. In this session, we’ll talk about what those changes were, what we learned through often quicker-than-planned pivots to digital and how that will impact membership engagement forever.

Elisa Pratt

Founder and CEO

Brewer Pratt Solutions, LLC

Eva Przygodzki

Chapter Engagement Manager

Society for Fire Protection Engineers

Temi Adewumi


TAGb Consulting

Tiffany Kerns

VP of Community Outreach

Country Music Association

12:15 pm – 12:45 pm (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

A Model for Strategy Execution: Accelerating Value with Objectives and Key Results

To succeed in this time filled with significant change, associations must be able to adapt to members’ ever-evolving needs. And yet, with so much to do and many rapid changes, it’s easy to strain your association’s alignment, resources and internal communication while struggling to make progress. Associations can positively impact their growth by using a simple quarterly goal-setting framework to focus on the results that matter most. One model — the OKR model, which is named for objectives and key results — is widely used by start-ups and tech companies, but it can easily be leveraged by associations as well.

The OKR framework allows organizations to set priorities, decide how they’ll measure what matters and to pivot quickly while keeping staff aligned, aware and accountable to the overarching strategy. The OKR model also empowers individuals at all levels of an organization to craft and achieve better outcomes that align to the organization’s strategy, and it involves engaging team members in a quarterly process to set, track and showcase what they intend to accomplish and how they will measure their progress.

In this presentation, you’ll learn why and how associations – or even individual teams — can implement the OKR model to achieve stronger results, alignment and accountability to provide stronger value to members and meet the needs of your stakeholders.

Debra BenAvram



Alex Bartholomaus

President and CEO

People Stretch Solutions

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm (CT)

Member Exclusive: Hallway Chat

Join us for this innovative networking event that combines the spontaneous style of traditional conference mingling with online technology.

11:00 am – 11:25 am

25-minute break

Day 2:  June 9

9 am – 10 am (CT)

1 CAE Credit

The Trusted Brand: How Your Association Can Become the Trusted Voice in a Noisy, Busy World

The Information Age is in full swing, and winning member trust has never been more critical. The reality is that brands can no longer expect traditional methods of marketing and sales to win audience interest and build loyalty.

One of the essential keys to gaining the trust of today’s digital consumer is by becoming their go-to source for helpful, useful information. Businesses and brands that focus more on teaching and helping (than on selling) will ultimately win member trust, gain an incredible amount of market share, and generate more revenue in the process.

In this program, attendees will:

– Discover how buying habits have changed and why name recognition is no longer enough
– Learn how transparent and honest content will move consumers to notice new brands – and switch to them
– Find out exactly what must be done to become the voice of trust in your space

Marcus Sheridan

Partner and author


10:15 am – 10:45 am (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

Data-Driven Community Detection: A Sidecar Story

Every member is unique, but many share common interests, which they reveal through interactions with your organization. In this session, we'll show you exactly how to use data your organization already has to identify communities with common interests — and we’ll do it using Sidecar’s actual audience data.

We'll also give you an action plan to create more relevant and targeted content, generate personalized recommendations and develop a systematic way to make sure you're as specific as possible with your member engagement strategies.

Thomas Altman


11 am – 12 pm (CT)

1 CAE Credit

Empowering Diversity for Inclusive Excellence

Barry Barresi of Association Ventures leads this panel discussion with rising association leaders about the ins and outs of empowering diversity for your organization’s future.

Barry Barresi

President and CEO

Association Ventures

Chris Urena

Chief Learning Officer

Endocrine Society

Sheryl McCalla

Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

American College of Rheumatology

Marcia D. Howard

Vice President, Regulatory & Scientific Affairs

Consumer Healthcare Products Association

12:15 pm – 12:45 pm (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

Governance for the Future-focused Association

The past year offered innumerable opportunities and lessons about governance, from hosting board meetings over Zoom to coming to terms with the impacts on diversity of decades-old governance documents. In this session moderated by Lowell Aplebaum, our veteran association leader panelists will talk about the future of governance as we know it — and as we’d like it to be.

Lowell Aplebaum

CEO & Strategy Catalyst

Vista Cova, LLC

Richard Yep


American Counseling Association

Michele Lui Lord

Executive Director

Financial Management Association

Sudip Parikh


American Association for the Advancement of Science

2 pm – 3 pm (CT)

Member Exclusive: Expert AMA

Sometimes, you’ve got a problem to solve and the only way to get it done is to ask the expert. Come with your questions, and mingle with solutions-oriented association experts to help you solve them.

11:00 am – 11:25 am

25-minute break

Day 3:  June 10

9 am – 10 am (CT)

1 CAE Credit

Leading Through the Pandemic: A New CEO Playbook — What’s That?

In the aftermath of a worldwide crisis, is there a difference in leading through adversity for established leaders and newly elected CEOs?

Many of today’s association leaders came of age studying and experiencing a classical model of leadership. Their missions were advanced by executing with economies of scale and static capabilities such as efficiency and quality; and they achieved those advantages through deliberate analysis, planning and focused execution. But if this is your first dance as a CEO, where’s the script?

The traditional playbook for strategy is no longer sufficient as associations, sectors, and professions are rapidly becoming more complex and dynamic. Industry boundaries are blurring. Product and professional life spans are shrinking. Technological progress and disruption are rapidly transforming association ecosystems. High economic, political, and competitive uncertainty is conspicuous and likely to persist for the foreseeable future.

In this session, panelists will answer:

– How are these recently appointed CEOs navigating the post-pandemic landscape?
– How are they reimagining and harnessing new ideas with their staff and board?
– How do they achieve resilience in the face of uncertainty?

Don Dea

Board Chair


Pamela Kaul


Association Strategies, Inc.

Julia L. Chang


American Society of Addiction Medicine

Adam Levy

Executive Director

American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association

Virginia Petrancosta

MBA, CAE, Executive Director

International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety

10:15 am – 10:45 am (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

Key Lessons from the Path to Resilient Leadership

Every association leader had to learn the toughest part of resilience in 2020: You don’t come by the definition easily. In this panel discussion, association leaders will tackle how to ensure these hard-won empower us all for the better.

Sarah Trahern


Country Music Association

Mike Moss


The Society for College and University Planning

Donté Shannon

Chief Executive Officer

Association of Equipment Management Professionals

11 am – 12 pm (CT)

1 CAE Credit

¡Adelante! It’s Time for More Hispanic, Latino and LatinX Association Leaders

Building upon the lessons we learned about the value of diversity, equity and inclusion through the rise of social justice movements in 2020, we’re excited to host an all Latino panel at SURGE Forward. 
Our panelists will bust the myths they hear about their community through discussing the values of sponsorship in mentorship, network-building and how associations and allies can proactively work toward bringing more Hispanic, Latino and LatinX association professionals into leadership positions while paving the path for more in the future.

Danielle Duran Baron

Staff Vice President of Marketing and Communications

School Nutrition Association

Juan Amador

Director, Constituent Engagement

Association of American Medical Colleges

Justin Reyes

Director of Business Development

Associated Builders and Contractors: Heart of America Chapter

Celia Trigo Besore

Executive Director

The Monitoring Association

12:15 pm – 12:45 pm (CT)

Half-hour CAE Credit

Work-Life Balance: Don’t Throw Your Bricks Away

Over the last year, it has become increasingly difficult to separate work and home life responsibilities. With a worldwide pandemic, social justice protests and significant change affecting everyone, it is more important than ever to prioritize work-life balance.
In this session, panelists will discuss how they’ve supported themselves and their teams throughout troubling times, share the tips and tricks that have and have not worked, and share what they will continue to do in the future.

Shameka Jennings

Director of Meetings and Partnership Development

National Coalition of STD Directors

Nikki Golden


Association Laboratory

Cynthia Simpson

Administrative assistant

Urgent Care Association

2:00 pm – 2:30 pm (CT)

Member Exclusive: Keynote Q&A

Didn’t get your question asked during the live chat? No problem. Come to our virtual gathering space for an extended conversation with our speakers.

11:00 am – 11:25 am

25-minute break

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